Piper Chase-Pierpont is under pressure to make her upcoming exhibit for the Boston Museum a success. With budgets being slashed and rumors of possible staff reductions, she can't afford another disaster. Working late Piper stumbles and trips over a trunk and discovers the hidden memoirs of Regency London's most celebrated courtesan, The Blackbird.
A woman before her time, The Blackbird was sexually liberated, financially independent and lived life on her own terms. Instructed in the sensual arts by the one man she loved the most, she recorded every wicked detail in her diaries...
Unbound by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan is a provocative and incredibly sexy blend of historical and contemporary characters. Never having read anything by either author, I was drawn into the story of Piper and how finding The Blackbird's diaries changed her life. The authors did a great job developing each character and their individual voices and experiences.
Piper is a modern day woman. Raised by scholarly parents, whose focus throughout much of the book was on an avoidance of dairy products, Piper is afraid of losing her job and of living life to its fullest. When she accidentally bites a pen in half and stumbles over a trunk that is a part of her upcoming exhibit, she discovers a hidden drawer that leads to a discovery which will change her life forever. When she reads the Blackbird's diaries, she's both shocked and aroused by her discovery of a secret life lived by one of Boston's most heralded abolitionists and advocate for women's rights. Going against the norm, she "borrows" the diaries for the weekend to make a copy for herself. She plans to re-read and study them in further detail and include them in her exhibit.
Raised by parents who loved and valued her, The Blackbird, was an educated young woman living in Regency London. When her parents died and she was placed in the care of her closest and only relatives, she's shocked and appalled to discover their plans to "sell" her off in marriage to the highest bidder. Determined to live her own life, she chooses to become like the most glamorous woman she's met, a notorious courtesan known as The Swan. Becoming The Swan's pupil and choosing to take the name, The Blackbird, this young woman embarks on a seven day "Sins of the Flesh" lesson under the tutelage of "Sir", a masked man who becomes her temporary lover. Declaring her freedom from her family, The Blackbird begins a journey to discover the woman she's destined to become.
When fate brings Mick Mallory, Piper's college crush, to the Boston Museum, Piper seizes upon the opportunity to transform herself and practice the lesson's she's learned from The Blackbird's diaries. The authors did a great job with developing both Piper and The Blackbird's characters throughout the story; we get to see the transformation of each woman as it occurs. The Blackbird's as we read through the diary entries and Piper's as she puts the lessons into practice in her life. Piper learns that a life lived in fear is no life at all and begins to learn who she is as both a woman and a sexual being. She seizes the courage necessary to make tremendous changes in her life and take a chance on love.
The secondary characters in this story are also well developed and contribute a lot to the story. From "Sir", The Blackbird's true love, whose identity we do eventually discover, to Brenna, Piper's best friend and closest confidant, they provide great support to the women in this story and give us a more complete picture of the women they were and the women they become. Even the two characters who are the antagonists in each woman's life are well done and I was thrilled with how the authors dealt with them both. Each received what they deserved in life.
The story ends in a great place with life for both The Blackbird and Piper. Both women were pleased with the choices in their lives and I applauded them both. I was both happy and sad to reach the end of their stories. I hope we see another collaboration between these authors, as this is definitely one of the best stories I've read this year and which is going on my keeper shelf.
Reissued Review. Originally reviewed on June 3rd, 2011.
Regency London’s most celebrated courtesan, The Blackbird, was a woman before her time—uninhibited, financially independent, and free to live by her own rules. Schooled in the sensual arts by the one man she loved the most, she recorded every wicked detail in her diaries…
When Boston museum curator Piper Chase-Pierpont unearths The Blackbird’s steamy memoirs, she’s aroused and challenged by what she finds. Could the courtesan’s diaries be used as a modern girl’s guide to finding love and empowerment? One curious curator—and one very lucky man—are about to find out…
Newly Titled as Unbound. Originally Titled as A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man